As an instructor of conflict it is easy to get so focused on teaching my own students how to survive criminal and terrorist attacks that I sometimes neglect my own training and keeping my skills sharp. In order to do something about it I sent out an email to some of my colleagues telling them, “I’m going to do some tactical pistol shooting practice up at the shooting range on October 22, and if anyone wants to come up and join me you are welcome to do so.”
I had eight professionals show up and we had a very productive time. I got my own training in, but I was not averse to showing the group some counterterrorism shooting techniques; especially how to deal with an Active Shooter. I also had a chance to put some rounds through my new Berretta 92 F that I picked up from the gun shop the day before. I was quite satisfied with it accuracy. On February 7 I qualified with the military as EXPERT on the pistol, and so I know a good gun when I shoot one, and my new purchase pleased me.
A YOUNG WOMAN WHO THINKS TACTICALLY
One of my young female Reality-Based Personal Protection students in Germany, Sevil Dilbas, proudly sent me photos of her tactical GO BAG. She had graduated from my Women’s Survival course, Knife Camp, and recently took a few Level 1 courses. She started training with me last year at 19-years-old, and she is just one of those students who gave self-defense training a try and then got hooked on it. When Sevil heard my lecture about having a tactical GO BAG when traveling, in the home, and in the car she didn’t just hear the words and do nothing about it like the majority of my students when it comes to putting together a GO BAG, but she went out and put together one of the best GO BAGs I had ever seen. Her GO BAG is just as professional as a soldier or police officer’s GO BAG. I was so proud of her that I asked her if I could publish her photos and if she could write something for the RBPP community. The article that follows this one is from Sevil.
For those of you who have attended my Terrorism Survival course you have actually seen my personal GO BAG that I take with me while travelling or to high-risk areas. Inside my own personal GO BAG there are many items, and which are divided into three major categories: PERSONAL PROTECTION EQUIPMENT, MEDICAL, and SURVIVAL.
When it comes to PPE I always carry a portable pocket size smoke hoot in case I find myself escaping a burning building or train or if there is a terrorist chemical attack, work gloves to pull debris out of my way, flashlight, chemlights, and other items. For my medical supplies I have latex or Nitrile first-aid gloves, a U.S. Army C.A.T. tourniquet to stop arterial bleeding from a limb, QuikClot to stop bleeding, and an Israeli field dressing. For survival I want to be self-sufficient if I have to survive in any environment for a few days. Supplies included a water purifier straw, food gels, compass, paracord, and all kinds of nick nacks.
When you read Sevil’s article you’ll get good ideas on how to put together your own tactical GO BAG. Like I say to all my students, “If you don’t put a GO BAG together within two weeks you probably never will.” Most people will spend a lot of time and money pampering their body with food and fitness, and entertaining themselves with films and fun, but they will neglect personal protection.
WHY I DECIDED TO HAVE A GO BAG
The reason why I decided to have a Go Bag was in first place was for my own safety and the safety of my family. After taking several Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection courses I realized how much danger is really out there and how quick anyone can find themselves in an emergency situation. Because of my training I can react quicker to a wide variety of emergencies with my go Bag. I know that I am prepared, and ready any time. It makes me feel safer when I am out in public or out on the highway.
My Go Bag is not only intended for use in catastrophic emergency situations or some horrendous accident, but it can be used every day for minor situations and that may arise. For example, in my Go Bag I carry duct tape, which can be used to tape a hole in a bottle, where water is pouring out of it or to tape a car windshield that was hit by a rock and cracked, and I just need to make it home without it getting worse.
My Go Bag includes two Pocket Organizers (smaller bags within the main bag). One bag (a Maxpedition Pocket Organizer) contains my First Aid kit, which consists of basic medical supplies: AIDS resistant rubber gloves, conforming bandages, waterproof-elastic-sensitive bandages, blister patches, triangular bandage, skin closer stripes with different sizes (small, medium, large), wound dressing pads and a C.A.T. tourniquet. In addition I have a fire starter and tampons to set a fire after a man-made or natural disaster in order to warm myself or cook food. I also have tweezers with a magnifying glass to get out small splinters or ticks out of the skin. I have some superglue, a mirror, a sewing kit, a headlamp with multiple functions, and a small utility pocketknife.
The other Pocket Organizer contains two bundles of paracord; each with different lengths, two figure nine carabineers, duct tape (which I also in my wallet), wire straps in different lengths, and a small pocket knife like the one I have in my First Aid kit.
In my Go Bag I carry two pair of gloves, one pair of work gloves to protect my hands from sharp and jagged materials, a reflective vest to make myself more visible on the side of the road or in a search and rescue situation, and a flashlight with five different light functions.
To go one step further than my Go Bag I had a dog tag made that I wear around my neck on a thin chain that has name on it, date of birth, blood type and the letters NKDA (No Known Drug Allergies).
I know that my Go Bag may not have everything in it, but it contains the essentials, and that that alone gives me a comforting feeling. My Go Bag is a part of me now, which everyone thinks is a purse. I take it almost everywhere I go; especially when travelling by car, train, bus, or airplane. My belief is that it is better to be prepared and not need the Go Bag than finding myself in an emergency situation and not have it.
TKD TIMES MAGAZINE PUBLISHED REALITY-BASED ARTICLE
TKD are the initials for the Korean martial art Tae Kwon Do, and TKD Times magazine is a popular martial arts magazine that has become popular with other martial artists from other fighting systems as well; so much so that they have featured a Reality-Based article written by RBPP Level 3 instructor Alex Haddox.
In the past I have featured Alex before because he is spreading the word about realistic training to the masses, and he does it through a variety of venues – TKD Times magazine being just one of them.
Alex also runs a successful training organization called Security Training Center, LLC. in Upland, California that teaches security guards how to get their credentials (called “the guard card” in California) as well as teaching a variety of security guard skills. Recently his company published a manual titled Guard Card Training: 8-hour California BSIS Guard Card and Chemical Agents Credential Training Manual. Inside the manual it includes Power to Arrest, Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism Awareness for Security Professionals, plus Chemical Agents. Alex was gracious enough to contact me before it went to press and said to me, in appreciation for teaching him the Reality-Based Personal Protection system, “I’d like to give you, at no cost, a full page advertisement in the manual.” Greatly honored, I jumped on the opportunity and sent him a full page advertisement about the Jim Wagner Reality Based Blade (product number BO051) made by Boker. I chose to promote this product because so many professionals worldwide carry this knife; including security guards in a dozen countries. Ever since I designed it back in 2005 it has been one of Boker’s best selling tactical folders. Even recently I received photos from a German combat unit stationed in Afghanistan training with the Jim Wagner RBB. The photos were sent to me by the unit’s commander whom I personally trained in Germany before he was deployed.
On Thursday, October 3, 2013 at around 3 o’clock in the morning Pastor Chuck Smith, my pastor of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa for the past 32 years, finished the good race, and went home to be with the Lord Jesus Christ. Chuck used to say, “Someday you may read in the newspaper that Chuck Smith has died. Don’t you believe it! Accurate reporting would say, ‘Chuck Smith moved!’ Out of an old, worn-out tent and into a new glorious body like Jesus has. No more groaning, no more pain, no more suffering. Just perfect fellowship with the Lord forever.”
The headline of the Los Angeles Times the next day read, PASTOR CHUCK SMITH DIES AT 86; FOUNDER OF CALVARY CHAPEL MOVEMENT. Well, their reporting was not accurate, just as Chuck had predicted. He had just “moved.”
Although I first went to a youth Bible study at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa when I was in my senior year of high school, I did not start listening to Pastor Chuck’s sermons until 1981 when I was going to college and driving a truck delivering pita bread to Armenian and Arab stores all over Southern California. On my delivery route I used to turn on the radio, turn the knob to KYMS Christian Radio, and listen to Pastor Chuck and his daily program The Word For Today.
What I liked about Pastor Chuck Smith’s teachings in the cab of my truck was how he would go through the Holy Bible line-by-line, chapter-by-chapter. As he put it, “I am giving you the full counsel of God,” and that he did. He made the Bible stories come alive to me, and he didn’t waiver from the truth of the Bible. Since I was 10-years-old I had always read the Bible from cover to cover. I just assumed that was how it was done when I read on my own. I didn’t grow up in a church, my family members were not believers at the time, and most churches just did topical studies; that is to say they skipped around picking and choosing what they wanted to teach. When I heard Pastor Chuck Smith doing the same that I had always done as a child, teenager, and young adult it attracted me and made me decide that Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa would be my permanent church; before that I had attended The First Baptist Church of Costa Mesa for a couple of years before going into the United States Army, but when I came back and found out that the pastor there had cheated on his wife, and the church kicked him out, I left that church. I not only needed good teaching, but I needed good examples.
After going to Calvary Chapel for three decades I had gone through the entire Bible a few times. Normally I’d go to the Sunday morning service where Pastor Chuck would preach a message from the book we were going through line-by-line in the evening service, but in the morning he would really go into detail about a pertinent topic. He wasn’t a “Hell fire and brimstone” type of preacher, but he didn’t back down from teaching the controversies as well. There was always a love and gentleness that came out of him even though he was a man’s man: tough and rugged.
Around 2003, the same year I founded the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system, George Brokate, a former Vietnam War veteran Captain, asked me to join the church’s security team. Although the church taught the love and peace of Jesus Christ there were many people who wanted to do the church, and Chuck, harm. Many times there were people who tried to rush the stage, try to start fights on the church grounds, and issue death threats against Pastor Chuck and other pastors. Gil Martinez, a former Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department patrol deputy, was the Head of Security and made me a team leader.
Three years later Gil moved to Texas with his family and he recommended me for the position of Head of Security, and the church leaders appointed me to this volunteer position. I served in this capacity for three years, until February of 2009, and by the time I had left I had a team of 30 security agents, and had trained them all. Chuck Smith was not perfect, the church was not perfect, and because I had disagreed with the way a few situations were handled I stepped down from the position. However, I did not stop attending Calvary Chapel. If anything, I got deeper into the Bible and I continued to learn under Pastor Chuck Smith and John Henry Corcoran. John Henry tended to Pastor Chuck for six straight years, six days a week, because his health was deteriorating over the years. For the last two years Chuck was fighting lung cancer even though a cigarette had never touch his lips in his life. Yet, despite knee surgery, back surgery, a stroke, and stage four lung cancer Pastor Chuck never stopped preaching and doing his radio shows. In fact, he was at the pulpit preaching God’s Word on the Sunday before his “move” to glory. He had an oxygen tube in his nose, he was gasping for breaths in between sentences, but he pressed on for his congregation. Unfortunately, I was teaching my Knife Expert course in Cologne, Germany and was not able to attend his final sermon. However, Dave Rolph, a pastor, and former martial artist, who visited Pastor Chuck just before he parted this life found out that there was one more sermon that he was working on and wanted to teach. So, I didn’t miss the last sermon after all. I guess I’ll have to hear it later in the Kingdom.
Even though I had been Chuck Smith’s “bodyguard” for six years, although I always felt that God was protecting him and not me or the security team, I actually only spoke to Chuck a few times in the three decades I was there. I think the reason I never tried to get close to him was that I felt that he was just the instrument that delivered God’s word, and just a fallible man like any other, and I wanted my focus to be on God. Chuck must have somehow felt this, because he did not try to communicate with me much either. He always acknowledged me and gave me at pat on the back from time to time with his famous smile, and that was enough for me. One day he was thrilled when I gave him the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Blade and he said to me, “That is quite a knife. Thank you.”
I had a few memorable times with Pastor Chuck Smith. The first was when he baptized my wife and me in the Jordan River in Israel in 2001 before the terrorist attacks of 9/11. After the horrific attacks I had been hired by the U.S. government to be a counterterrorist agent and Chuck Smith prayed for my safety before I set off to fight the Global War on Terrorism. The third fond memory was when I went on a church cruise with him and other church members sailing down the coast of Mexico in February 2003. It was a much needed vacation and building of spiritual strength for my friends and partners of our company HSS International, Inc., that I had helped build into one of the most renown police and military training companies, forced me out of the company on January 21, 2003; just a month before. The reason for forcing me out, as stated before a judge, was that they were “afraid that he would leave the company.” They were afraid that I would one day leave and start my own company, which I had no intention of doing, but that is exactly what they forced me to do. I needed that time on the ship to pray and hear Pastor Chuck’s comforting messages. My problems seemed quite small in comparison to eternity.
Sunday, October 6, 2013 was Calvary Chapel’s first Sunday without its pastor. It was a touching tribute given by his oldest son Chuck Smith Junior and his son-in-law Brian Brodersen.
There’s no doubt that I’ll see Chuck Smith again. For three decades he was in my life, and I consider him a mentor. I’ll miss him, I’ll miss his teachings, but as a Christian warrior I must continue the good fight. This is what he would have wanted me, and the other members of his flock, to do.
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